The first National Heroes’ Day in Jamaica was on October 20, 1969. It was held in honour of the Jamaican stalwarts who had shed blood, sweat and tears to ensure that the people of the country would enjoy a life of freedom as now exists.
It is a Jamaican public holiday, that is usually celebrated on the third Monday in October and is a celebration of the island’s seven National Heroes. The National Heroes Day acknowledges these seven great heroes of Jamaica, where they are viewed with inspiring pride and symbols of enduring strength.
History of National Heroes’ Day
The national heroes of Jamaica emerged at a time when the Jamaican people were under the colonial power of the British Crown and changed the course of Jamaica’s history by giving social and political freedom to its people. The development was initiated by Edward Seaga, who later became Prime Minister of Jamaica, in respect of these national heroes of Jamaica who dared to challenge the institution of colonialism, standing up for the people of the country.
The first named National Hero was Marcus Mosiah Garvey and of all seven Jamaican National Heroes, Marcus Garvey is perhaps most revered.
Jamaica has six National Heroes and one National Heroine:
- Marcus Garvey, 1887-1940, born in St. Ann. International figure who promoted the concept of black pride and black power
- Sir Alexander Bustmante, 1884-1977, born in Hanover. Extraordinary labor leader, Jamaica’s first prime minister.
- Norman Washington Manley, 1893-1969, born in Manchester. Lawyer, at the forefront of Jamaica’s nationalist movement.
- Samuel Sharpe, 1801-1832. Slave leader, Baptist Deacon, hanged for his role in Christmas Rebellion of 1831-1832.
- Paul Bogle, d.o.b.uncertain – 1865. Native Baptist Deacon, peasant leader, hanged for his role in Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865.
- George William Gordon, 1815-1865, born in St. Andrew. Champion of rights for small settlers. Hanged for his role in the Morant Bay
- Nanny of the Maroons. Freedom fighter, spiritual and military leader of the eastern Maroons.
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